My First Apartment: Tess' Tiny Old Studio

My First Apartment: Tess' Tiny Old Studio

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Tess Wilson
Aug 9, 2011

Location: Downtown Portland, Oregon
Size/Type: Studio, 250 square feet (at the most)
Length of Residence: 9 months

After graduating from college, I moved across the country to Portland, Oregon, on a whim, and rented a strange and tiny apartment. It was about 250-square feet, had a Murphy kitchen, and I was thrilled…

These three polaroids are the only photos I can find of that first apartment, though I must have prints or at least negatives somewhere, surely.

I wish I had a photo of the Murphy kitchen to show you — it was so handy, and so unreasonable. There was just enough space for me to put away my 1 bowl, 1 plate, and 1 glass, but the great thing was that even if every dish and pan was dirty, I could just close the whole thing up, hiding the mess behind floor-to-ceiling white doors.

There was an old intercom that you can see in the photo on the left. It was substantial, and old — I wonder how old that building was. The windows had that French-feeling wire embedded in the glass, and there were no window screens. Coming from the Midwest, this was a marvel to me. No mosquitos to battle, I can just throw the windows wide open? Such freedom.

The place was small, but it felt spacious because I didn't have much at all. I remember realizing that I only owned one thing that plugged in — my cell phone charger. There were wide shelves near the ceiling, so I kept everything I owned packed in nice white storage boxes, leaving the floor clear for me, my bed, and my bike. I spent ridiculous amounts of time putting all of my toiletries into plain bottles with handmade labels; I guess I still do that.

My soon-to-be best friend lived in the next apartment and we hung out the windows chatting with each other. We cooked dinner for each other, and I cat-sat her cat and watched her TV. It was a quiet, strange, lonely, wonderful time. I had little money and no idea what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go next, or anything, really. But I loved Portland, and my little home, and took care of it as best I could.

Image: Tess Wilson

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